Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & JokerPosted: 01/17/2014
In an effort to scrounge up some inspiration/desperately hope something triggers an article idea, I googled “best superhero couples.” Three results on the first page have Harley Quinn and Joker on their list. I googled “best DC couples.” Two results on the first page have Harley Quinn and Joker on their list. What’s going on? Why are they on those lists? One can’t justify anything sexy about a psychopathic abusive manipulative violent egotistical supervillain dating anyone, much less the emotionally-shattered and deranged Harley Quinn. I don’t want to judge the readers’ personal preference, but tell me, what’s romantic about this?
Harley Quinn has only existed for a little over twenty years. And while comic books haven’t always been kind to women (though they’re definitely getting better), is it romance we feel for Harley’s affections? What about uneasiness? Frustration? Anger? Even if the Joker’s capable of love of any sort (which is highly debatable), it’s Batman who has his heart, not Joker’s bubbly sidekick. Look, I love the Joker. I love Harley Quinn. Those two endlessly fascinate me and both are such rich, bold characters. But we shouldn’t celebrate the two of them being together and I hope to prove it.
I’m going to use the following issues today:
Batman: Harley Quinn, written by Paul Dini and drawn by Yvel Guichet
Gotham City Sirens #19, written by Peter Calloway and drawn by Andres Guinaldo
Gotham City Sirens #21, written by Calloway and drawn by Guinaldo
Batman #13, volume 2, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo
Suicide Squad #14-15, volume 3, written by Fred Glass and drawn by Fernando Dagnino
After her huge success in Batman: The Animated Series, it was only a matter of time before she premiered in the comics. Her first appearance took place right in the middle of the Batman event No Man’s Land, where like pretty much every appearance Harley Quinn and the Joker have together, her dear boyfriend attempts to assassinate her:
Be honest, do you feel romance or pity for poor Harley?
I’ve posted these next series of images before (also because Gotham City Sirens constantly delighted me), and any comparison between the Dark Knight and Joker’s obsessions (each other, essentially) hits a nerve we don’t like to admit. Superman’s the perfect one, but Batman’s as wildly emotionally damaged as the Joker. Though without the murdering.
After this conversation where Catwoman and Harley Quinn both realize they love emotionally unavailable men, Harley Quinn figures she should solve her lingering kryptonite the ol’ supervillain way.
To be fair to Catwoman, Batman has never tried to explode his paramours. And while we constantly wonder why Harley Quinn goes back to that psychopath, it’s important to know that the dear girl’s just as messed up as her remorseless boyfriend. Or at least as delusional.
This scene may be one of the finest I’ve read in a long time. You see all that anger slowly fade to a mush of only the happy memories to give us a small glimpse as to why she returns infinitely to his open arms. Thankfully, I think the Batman event Death of the Family that recently took place ended the two’s rendezvouses for a few years. Status quo’ll demand she’ll eventually get smacked by a giant axe or suffer acid burns at the hands of Joker, but trust me — Harley came out of this event with some serious trauma.
Skinned face Joker is super scary, right?
While some critics complained of too many lengthy, philosophical Joker rants filling the pages, I’ve always been a sucker for insane supervillain speeches. This new Joker feels that any PTSD main course must come with an appetizer of a lecture. Sure, everyone from Nightwing to Batgirl to Robin to Red Hood to Batman received their Joker speech, but Harley Quinn’s hits especially hard as she’s spent half her life making out with that dude.
I don’t think we’re witnessing any revelations here. Harley’s almost certainly the first and only one, as Joker pulled similar stunts with the Batkids. If you like, pick up Harley Quinn #1 released a few weeks ago. I’m really hoping for success with her new solo series. Fictional as she may be, I’ll always be rooting for Harley Quinn.